Speaking of recognizing that eight years’ worth of foreign policy has ended in total failure, an interesting item comes to me from Rice University.
Edward Djerejian is a longtime diplomat and confidant of James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state and consigliere to George H.W. Bush. Djerejian was an outsized figure in GOP foreign-policy circles in its pre-neocon days, having been the only U.S. diplomat to serve as ambassador to both Syria and Israel. After leaving government service in the Clinton administration, he became the founding director of Baker’s institute at Rice University, and Colin Powell briefly recalled him to chair a State Dept. panel on public diplomacy during George W. Bush’s first term. In other words, he’s a grownup.
Djerejian doesn’t have much patience with the ultras who drove U.S. foreign policy off a cliff during the younger Bush’s term. I haven’t read his new book, “Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East,” but according to a press release I have read, Djerejian reaches over to the right-wing kiddie table and brandishes a switch he cut off the backyard oak tree:
Djerejian backs a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East from conflict management to conflict resolution.
“The road to Arab-Israeli peace does not go through Baghdad or Tehran as the neocons advocated. I think that is a wrong-headed policy, and I think the results of that have been rather disastrous,” Djerejian said.
While supporting moves to spread democracy in the Arab and Muslim world, Djerejian cautioned against a “fixation on elections.” He relayed an anecdote from his time as ambassador in Damascus. Then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad had just been reelected with 99.44 percent of the vote. Djerejian said he congratulated Assad on his overwhelming victory and then asked him who were the .56 percent who had voted against him. “I have all their names,” Assad assured Djerejian. The point of the anecdote, Djerejian said, is that “elections alone do not make democracy.”
Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz better get out the ointment before that leaves a mark. Djerejian’s book appears to be an unsubtle rebuke of George W. Bush’s approach to the Middle East and a way of saying the U.S. has a chance to start over. Is Djerejian even bothering to back Sen. John McCain this election cycle? Hmmm.
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